Lately we’ve been asked a lot how we could afford to travel so much last year – we did 6 “big travels” and some weekend breaks in our country. “Do you earn a lot?”, “Do you borrow money from your parents?”, “Did you rob a bank?”.
The answer is: NO, NO and NO!
You may think that traveling to Paris or London is really expensive and not something that anyone can do. But you’re wrong. What if we told you that our 4 days in London was our cheapest trip in the year? It’s all about searching the right options and looking for opportunities.
We’re in 2016. The idea that only rich people can travel is a myth. There are so many cheap alternatives that your mind will be blown away. Sometimes it’s cheaper going away for a weekend to Madrid than having dinner in some sushi restaurants. It’s only a matter of perspective and how you would prefer to invest your money – you can eat out 4 times a week or you can go away for the weekend instead.
PRE-PLAN YOUR TRIP
There are some questions you need to ask yourself from the start:
- Where, When and How many days do I want to go?
- How much money do I want to spent?
- What airport should I choose?
- What are my extra expenses?
- Should I stay at a hotel?
- What attractions do I want to see?
- Do I need a passport?
- What will the weather be like?
SEARCH CHEAP FLIGHTS
We’re very lucky to live in the European Union – it’s very easy and cheap to travel around Europe with low cost companies. This year we flew 8 times with Ryanair and 2 with Easyjet and on average we spend 40-50€ per inbound and outbound flight.
Here are our hacks, that you can use to purchase really cheap flights:
- Prefer low cost companies – use Skyscanner or Google Flights to compare the prices, but buy the tickets in official sites to avoid extra taxes. Sign up for e-mails alerts;
- Search for flights under private mode in your browser – sometimes your browsing activity is tracked and the prices are raised to entice you to perform a purchase “before it’s too late”;
- Start searching about 4 months before your departure time. (this is not a rule – we have already bought some cheap flights, including to Paris and London only 3 weeks before leaving);
- Travel in the low season – January, February, March, October and November are the best months. Stay away from the holiday season or summer. If you want to travel during a holiday, buy those tickets as soon you know when you’ll be travelling;
- Choose to travel in the middle of the week, like Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. Never choose Sundays as they are usually the most expensive days to fly;
- Try to buy tickets for the earliest departure flight and the latest return flight – you will gain an extra day to do some sightseeing! (although being at the airport at 6 a.m. requires a bit of effort – no pain, no gain, right?);
- You need to keep in mind the location of the airport you will arrive at. Sometimes, not always, choosing an airport away from your final destination can be much cheaper, even accounting for the train or shuttle tickets to the city centre;
- Do your check-in online, don’t choose the seats and try to not check your luggage – you will save a lot in extra fees and you’ll get to leave the airport quickly without having to wait for your bags;
- Finally, don’t buy food inside the aircraft – eat before boarding and take some solid food, like cookies, sandwiches or candies.
CHOOSE A BACKPACK
…and here’s why:
- You don’t need to check the backpack – you’re allowed to take hand luggage with you;
- You can go around the place you’re visiting with your backpack without leaving it in rented lockers or without the hassle of having to roll a heavy suitcase around town;
For more information, see the post about Travel Backpacks.
RENT AN AirBnB
If you think that staying at a hotel close to the Louvre Museum or in the beautiful neighbourhood of Chelsea or Kensington is out of question because of the price, we really recommend to you browse through some AirBnB places! We only stay in AirBnB’s close to the city center and mostly walk instead of taking public transportation – and we never paid more than a night at a hostel. More often than not we rent the whole house – we rented our first bedroom in London and we’ve had a great experience as usual! (but this is for another post). Here’s why:
- Cheaper than a hotel bedroom;
- You can stay close to the attractions, where hotels are usually very expensive;
- You can have the opportunity of staying in houses (and even castles and boats!) and have a more local experience;
- You can rent the whole place or just a bedroom;
- You have more privacy than a hostel at the same price.
Walking is the best way to know the city and you won’t harm the environment. But sometimes you need other alternatives:
- Subway/metro or train – every big city has one and it is usually the cheapest alternative. Try to buy a day or multiple day pass, which are sometimes available online at a discounted price.
- Buses – Similar to subway but can often suffer schedule delays because of heavy traffic (this is especially true in cities like London or Paris).
- Uber – Useful alternative when you don’t have public transportations nearby.
- Bicycle – If the weather allows it (and if you know how to) choose this one! You’ll see everything and get some exercise along the way. This also tends to be less tiring than walking around.
Don’t take taxis – its expensive everywhere you go, especially when going or coming from airports.
SEARCH ALTERNATIVE PLACES TO EAT
When travelling try to avoid eating in restaurants, especially those close to famous attractions. These places tend to be more expensive. But by that I’m not saying that you need to have every meal at a McDonald’s or at Subway – you just need to search for local alternatives where you might be able to eat a good and healthy meal for a reasonable price (we recommend Pret a Manger or Wasabi if you’re heading to London!).
If you’re staying at an AirBnB and have access to a kitchen, you should definitely buy some local products at supermarkets and cook at home.
BOOK EVERYTHING ONLINE
Do some reaserch about the place where you’re going and see what you can book online – usually there are discounts:
- Museums, galleries or other attractions;
- Subway, trains or shuttle tickets;
- Transfer tickets from the airport to the centre.
If you need help with something, please leave us a comment and we’ll be happy to help you!